New Trust Drug: Good for Shyness, Bad for Investing

Natural hormone makes people dumb with their money in experiment
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2008 9:46 AM CDT
New Trust Drug: Good for Shyness, Bad for Investing
The hormone seems to play a very specific role in social interactions.   (Shutterstock)

Scientists have created a nasal spray that makes its users more trusting, the BBC reports. Made up mostly of oxytocin, alternatively nicknamed the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” the spray decreases social fears by lowering activity in the amygdala. That should be great news for social phobics; just don’t use it when you’re, say, making investment decisions.

The study had its participants invest money with a “broker,” giving each subject either the oxytocin or a placebo. The oxytocin group was willing to continue trusting the broker, even after he stole their money. “Oxytocin has a very powerful effect,” said the lead researcher. When the same game was repeated with a computer instead of a human broker, the oxytocin had no effect. (More psychiatry stories.)

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